Good Tidings: A Shepherd’s Advent Story

Good Tidings: A Shepherd’s Advent Story

(Journey Church of the Highlands, 2015 Christmas Celebration)

I remember it was night. It gets pretty chilly in those hills at night.

So it was my shift and Im up, and it starts to rain, so Im watching those stupid sheep, freezin my tookus off and I was not enjoying myself tremendously, let me tell you.

One of ’em starts bawlin over across the hill, Im thinkin it probably got its leg caught in a thicket or saw a rock that scared it or some other fool thing, and so I head out from under my tree to see what the problem is.

I get about halfway across, and then–Light. Just–Light. Im not talking a lantern bobbing over the hill, Im talkin -DAYLIGHT. everywhere! I mean just like that, it was NO LONGER NIGHT. Do you have any idea how confusing that is? And in the same instant, there’s this guy standing right in from of me, at the center of this light. No, who am I kidding. It wasnt just some guy, and I knew it right away. It was an angel. An angel from the Almighty himself, and he was standing right in front of me. I couldve reached out and touched him. I could have, but lemme put it to ya this way: A man, 12 feet tall and shining like the sun with a flaming sword as wide as my torso: I ran. Like the wind. I put about 50 feet between us in 3 steps. And then I hear his voice, softly right in my ear: “Don’t be afraid. ” And that voice was like cool water. As terrified as I was, I instantly felt peace. I was calm. I was thinking straight.

I stopped and turned to face him and he started tellin us that he had good news. Well, you can sure believe he had our attention. So we kinda shuffled closer and perked up and then he said the absolute LAST thing I would have expected to hear that night. He says: “The Messiah is born.” The Messiah. The Messiah. Is born. Tonight. And God sent this angel to tell us. Four raggedy ol’ shepherds squatting in a muddy field. Can you believe that? He wanted us to know.

And then he gave us directions how to get there! It was just in town, down the road! We’d barely picked our jaws up off the ground when the rest of the sky bursts open and whole gaggle of angels spilled out and start singing about the Messiah being born. Forget daylight, it was like the sun had landed in that little field! I mean, birds were waking up looking all confused, the sheep lost what little minds they already had.

And then just like that, the angels were gone. It was night; you could see the stars. And it was still kinda rainin. And we just stand there like idiots gapin at each other. Then I just took off. I mean I lit out for town like the angel was comin after me again. I could hear the others flappin along behind me. Left those fool sheep right out there in the rain. Looking back, that part was pretty dumb, But at the moment, we couldnt think of nothin else but findin the Messiah. My feet barely touched the ground all the way there, and I kept hearin what the angel had said, over n’ over: that the Messiah was a baby, and we’d find him bundled up and layin in a manger. What on earth is the the King of the Jews doin layin in a feed trough?

Well, we blew into town and scramble around, lookin. Folks probably though we were crazy, four wild-eyed, scruffy guys, runnin’ around, peekin into every stable we come across. But we found Him. Yes sir, we did. It was the only stable that was shinin’, all lit up like them angels. We all knew it when we seen it. And then we stopped runnin, and calmed down, catched our breath, tried to smooth our clothes down a little bit, look somewhat presentable, and then I kicked myself cuz I didnt even have nothin to bring ‘im! King of the Jews was born, and here I was, lookin like a hot mess, and didnt even have nothin to lay at his feet! But we went ahead on in, cuz we knew we had to, and we’d done come that far and that angel had told us to go and so here we was. We all took a deep breath and stepped inside…

Well, it was like we’d come late to a party! There was some townsfolk wedged in there and three dapper-looking guys, musta been royalty, but not from anywhere near here as far as i could tell, and everybody kinda washed in this warm light, and we inched our way up to the front and there was daddy, lookin a little bewildered, and there was Mama, lookin proud, n’ tired, just like a new mama oughta look, and then there He was. I mean there he was. Just a baby, bundled up and layin there in the straw, just like the angel said. But not just a baby. The baby. The only baby in the world. I just stared and stared and stared. There he was. Our king. Laying there, eyes shining with that warm light. And then i found my tongue, and i couldnt take my eyes offa him, but i says to his mama and daddy that an angel had told us to come here, and that this was the Savior, the King…the Messiah. And then it all kinda made perfect sense. That he should be born here, into nothing, in a food trough, that this will one day be the Man that will save our people…it was right, perfectly right in a way that I could only understand but not explain. And then I realized that I did have something to give him, and so I lay myself down at his feet.

Ill tell ya, when we left that little stable, it was like something broke loose insida us and we ripped around town just like we’d come in, yellin to everyone we could catch, tellin em the good news and pointin them to the stable and they’re eyes’d get big and they’re mouths’d hang open and they’d take off at a clip to get over there. Well, we was dog-tired by the time we got back out to the edge of town but Ive never felt better than I did that night. The greatest thing in our lives ahad just happened tonight and we were there to see it.

Just about when we got back to the field, we all kinda looked at each other for a moment, suddenly rememberin all those sheep we’d just up and left. But I knew what I was gonna see, and I squared my shoulders and stepped up over that rise and sure enough, just as I knew they would be, every single one of those sheep was still there.

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